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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 18:03 GMT
Wagner 'wins' Bayreuth battle
Richard Wagner
The festival has always been run by the Wagner family
A friend of the grandson of composer Richard Wagner is to succeed him as director of the prestigious Bayreuth Festival - but only temporarily.

Klaus Schultz
Schultz: In charge while family battle rages
Klaus Schultz, 54, director of a small state theatre in Munich, will become interim director of the Wagner music festival in January, said Wolfgang Wagner.

Wagner, 82, will stay on in an advisory role, offering "co-operation regarding artistic questions".

Schultz will run the Festival until a permanent director can be found.

But this will not be easy - the battle over who succeeds Wagner has raged for months.

Wagner would like his second wife Gudrun to succeed him, and eventually their daughter Katharina.

'Autocratic'

But the festival's 24 directors named his estranged daughter, Eva Wagner-Pasquier as his successor, saying she would take over from October 2002.

But Wagner refused to step down, saying he had lifetime jurisdiction over the opera house where the festival is staged each summer.

Another alternative, his niece Nike Wagner, was unsuitable, he said.

Singers and musicians have lately been turning their back on Bayreuth, complaining that Wolfgang Wagner is autocratic and offers them only one-year contracts.

The board would also like to see someone younger take over the directorship, amid complaints Wagner is too conservative.

Richard Wagner founded the Bayreuth Festival in 1876, believing that the out-of-the-way Bavarian village would be an appropriately serious and spiritual home for his works.

Wagner died before the festival was a decade old and its management passed to his widow, Cosima, and later to his children and grandchildren.

Wolfgang Wagner is perceived to have done much in the immediate post-war period to have distanced the festival from the Nazi associations of 1933-1945.

See also:

08 Jul 01 | Arts
Barenboim breaks Wagner taboo
30 May 01 | Arts
Protests stop Wagner concert
27 Oct 00 | Middle East
Israeli orchestra breaks Wagner taboo
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